5405 Delridge Way SW, Seattle WA 98106
Wonder. Learn. Grow.
Our program is inspired by children’s curiosity and natural inclination to learn through play.
At SWEL we strongly believe that play-based curriculum is the very best way to meet the developmental needs of the children in our care. Play based curriculum supports not only the more obvious physical and social emotional development of young children, but it also creates an environment where the teachers can fully engage in the Reggio inspired practice of emergent curriculum, thus meeting the children’s intellectual needs as well. When children are fully engaged in meaningful play, teachers are able to closely observe them as they work, collecting information about the children’s passions, developing hypotheses, and areas of growth. We use this data to plan “provocations” in the classroom for the children, with the goal of deepening their thinking, expanding their understanding, and giving them the opportunity to explore and master new skills.
Play based curriculum is also the perfect vehicle for practicing empathy and conflict resolution skills and for learning to work collaboratively with peers; skills that support the development of executive function and that are looked for when evaluating children for placement in elementary schools.
Teachers see children as active participants in their own learning. Follow the example below for a look at this approach.
Following the example of the master educators from Reggio Emilia, SWEL uses an emergent curriculum model. Also referred to as “child centered” curriculum, emergent curriculum describes a process where the teachers observe children at play, meet together to share their notes and come up with possible “next steps”, and then implement their ideas in the classroom.
One helpful description of this approach is to imagine that a child has a metaphorical ball of clay that he or she marks in some way, before tossing it to the teacher. The teacher then hypothesizes about the meaning of the child’s marks, and then makes her own mark on the ball, before tossing it back. If the teacher’s understanding of the child’s ideas were correct, the child will respond by accepting the ball, making new changes to it, and tossing it back again. In this way, knowledge and ideas are grown, challenged, changed, and expanded as the “ball” continues to be passed back and forth.
In the classroom, this might manifest itself in a teacher responding to a group of children’s interest in music by bringing in different instruments, exploring dance, or creating their own musical language. Embedded in this work, which follows the passion of the children involved, would be opportunities to explore physical movement, literacy, mathematical concepts, and social problem solving, as well as opportunities to expose the children to the music and dance of non-dominant cultures.
Because this work is so specific to the children involved, extended investigations seldom include all the children in a class, but instead are tailored to meet the needs of small groups of children and are usually facilitated by one teacher from the classroom team.